I collect barns. Not real, physical barns (no room!); but certainly not toy barns, either. I collect photographs and stories of barns, old barns, the barns that surround my home.
Originally a city girl from Los Angeles, my childhood memories are mostly of beaches and deserts. I knew what barns were, and had even seen a few on family vacations. But it wasn't until my husband and I moved up to Washington in 1994 that I really had a chance to see them up close.
The house we bought sat next to 27 acres of cow pasture. With cows. Lots of cows. I found it relaxing to watch the cows, and enjoyed the antics of new-born calves in the spring. I could see one barn from my kitchen window, two more from my back yard, and parts of three others from my driveway.
After a couple of years they removed the cows, laid in electrical lines, and built some roads for a planned housing project. This is as far as they went; to my knowledge none of the homesites have been sold yet. Now in the spring a big mower comes to cut and harvest the grass that grows in the vacant field, to feed other cows somewhere else.
But I missed "my" cows! At least I still had "my" barns to look at. And I could stop by the roadside and watch other spring-time calves romp in other people's pastures.
Even so I realized that the rural life I had come to love was quickly vanishing, so I had better start collecting pictures. I began to shoot barns all around the neighborhood. Dozens and dozens of barns. A totally staggering (to me!) number of barns.
I also started painting pictures of the barns I shot. Not as they were, but more as they once might have been in a more perfect world. I used artistic license to pull the weeds, straighten the sagging timbers, and discard the derelict cars and other trash often found near the abandoned structures. The resulting paintings may no longer be recognizable as specific barns, but I believe the essence of their "barn-ness" has been rescued.
And somewhere along the line, I fell in love with the barns. I now drive miles out of my way, seeking little side roads in hope of finding another old barn to add to my collection. I plague total strangers with questions about the barns on their property. And I grieve, when I barn I have found is torn down.
Please take a few moments to explore my barns. Maybe you will fall in love, too.
Do you know about a barn in the Sequim-Dungeness area? Act now to preserve that information for the future!
Email me here, or write to Cathrine Bennett - Post Office Box 244 - Carlsborg, WA 98324
Thank you for your support.